UN Mission bridges gap between civilians and army

By Mary Poni

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNIMISS) in collaboration with the Ministry ofDefense and Veterans Affairs and civil society organization embarked on a milestone initiative to embrace trust between the armed forces and civilians in the Country.

The Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs Angelina Teny said that in other aspect, the relation looks normal as they carry out their activities with the members of the armed forces when they are socializing in doing their own business and how they treat the civil population.

She spoke yesterday during a two days’ workshop in Juba that was initiated to reflect on the civil military relations within the institutions and the nature of the system partake.

According to Angelina, civilians are supposed to feel confident seeing somebody wearing a uniform but in most cases is the contrary.

The minister said if there is a situation of political, economic and social instability, the behavior of some of the members of the armed forces would also be to a larger extent detected but it doesn’t mean that something cannot be done about it.

“If we have a system of defense that is transparent and open, then definitely that would govern and restrict these kinds of relationships and all of these are directly linked to the welfare including the working environment,” she said.

The Director of Information and Civil-Military relations in SSPDF, Malak Ayuen stated that it is very clear that relationships are determined by the law of the country how the army is related to civilians and how civilians are related to the army as clearly put in the constitution and at the law of SPLA.

“Our mandate is clear but as it was said, implementation of the laws and regulations sometime conflict because implementing it in a peaceful country is not the same way of implementing in a war country,” he cited.

“Although we know what our role is in the army and the civilians also know what they are doing; at the end of the day we are doing one thing which is protecting each other,” he continued.

Ayuen underlined that one of the problems which is always conflicting the military and the politics is exploitation of military and militarization of politics.

“Sometimes if there is no clear task between the army and the politics, it will definitely lead to creation of problems,” he noted.

“Why is the relationship between the civilians and the army is poor is because of the war in the country hence, a lot of people are soldiers but they are not legal and when they do sometime wrong, it is the army held responsible,” he underscored.

The Executive Director for support peace initiative development organization Wodcan Saviour Lazarus said the civil and military relation is paramount in our society.

“As a civil society where we started as a country, there is a great improvement though not much but at least there is and we should be happy for that,” Saviour said.

He noted that during the 2013 and 2016 wars, that’s where a lot of issues were raised whereby the relationship of the civilians and military became poor in terms of suspicion and accusation against one another and the way the military was also handling civilians.

The activist however pointed that the percentage of the relationship is improving due to the implementation of the peace agreement.

Wodcan encouraged the military officers and UNMISS to make the initiative more of monthly where by it has to go across other states if possible in the counties as well such that they are able to engage with the great youth in the states in a very wonderful way.

 “Some of the accountabilities are being done mostly in sexual gender-based violence and other aspects although it is almost to the period of sixteen days of activism, we will be talking more about GBV, issues happening in the community,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Mamadu Toure from UNIMISS Rule of Lawsectionsaid it is their mandate to support the specialized committee on defense and veteran affairs in order to see how they can support the implementation of the peace process.

“We had a foundational workshop two months ago in collaboration with WFP and Action Plan in which the members of the committee highlighted the needs to have civilians and military relation activities,” he revealed.

He said the workshop is just the first activity they are trying to bring together the civil and the military actors in order to improve the task and foster collaboration between them.

“In addition to the specialized committee, we have the ministry of defenses, SSPDF representative, and also the CSOs and we think that it will be the first start at the end we will have some recommendations stated by a member of the civil society to see how to repeat the same initiative in Juba and in the states,” he stated.

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